The Northeastern area of the Indian Territory is particularly vulnerable given the Internal Disputes in States like Nagaland and Manipur; The “Chicken Neck Area” near Sikkim and West Bengal; and its proximity to neighbours like Bangladesh, Myanmar which are essential parts of India’s Act East Policy.
The Act East Policy focuses on extended relations in the Asia Pacific Region. Some of the major projects include Kaladan Multi Modal Project, India Myanmar Thailand Trilateral Highway, Rhi Tiddim Road Projects, Border Haat etc.
Importance of North East India’s development:
-> Social and cultural harmony – Inter alia, India’s Act East policy also aims to enhance bilateral social and cultural exchange which would mutually benefit both the region which is only possible if social harmony is ensured.
-> The area can ensure full connectivity with Myanmar and further up to other ASEAN nations, as has the proposed India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral highway.
-> Political stability – In order to realize the full potential of Act East Policy it is important to make the region stable and peaceful by improving security which would ensure the free flow of goods & services across the boundary.
-> Trade & commerce – India’s north-east opens a window for land routes through which India under the Act East Policy aims to enhance bilateral trade & commerce with ASEAN. Therefore it is important to improve the security in the region.
-> Free from terrorism – India’s north-east is subtly vulnerable as most terror funding & deals in fake currency happens frequently from across the border. Therefore an improvement in security would be a check to the menace which will contribute to help achieve Act East Policy goals.
-> Various projects such as the Kaladan Multi-modal also promise to boost relations with Myanmar as well as provide more connectivity from mainland India.
-> With increasing Chinese influence in south-east Asia, north-east could play a crucial role in India’ Act East policy by providing quick access to south-eastern countries for the development activities India have taken in this region.
The North-east region is a gateway for the ASEAN, it can help India converge with our distant neighbours, but due to poor infrastructure and development and also frequent insurgencies, such a goal is inhibited. It is hence imperative to provide optimum security to these states and promote development so as to consolidate our tie with other Asian neighbours.